Forgiveness is like a bridge, with water passing underneath. It’s a word many of us like to use but fail to apply. I’ve been faced with this same quandary, muddling around the perimeters of forgiveness. We all have those chapters in our lives we wish could be forgotten, but that’s not exactly forgiveness is it? When we forgive we pardon, exonerate, show mercy. We don’t continue to carry around the wrongdoing, revisiting it like a parole meeting. The problem with most of us is well we are human, so the offense, the infringement, the breach and the fault of the situation is not as easily let go. We like to revisit the scene, like a CSI looking for evidence of the crime. The problem with this practice is it leads to resentment, hostility, and bitterness because we can’t let go of the hurt we feel has been done to us. This practice and this kind of continual grudge holding only leads to contempt so we become the victim of our own grief, agony, despair and loathing.
Forgiveness is not something we obtain on our own nor is it a gift we can offer anyone else without truly experiencing it ourselves. If we have never been forgiven for our own transgressions how do we learn to forgive others theirs? There’s a quote by the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I like to revisit often, it goes like this, “Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.“ I fail many times when it comes to completely moving on, overlooking the offence and letting the parole board go but the truth is when I don’t, I define myself, not those who have committed the offense. Believe me I’ve had plenty to convene court with, shut and lock emotional jail cells on and hold multiple parole committee meetings on these last few years. I could chose to be bitter, to be angry and continue to allow those emotions to spill out contempt and animosity but why I ask? Why should I allow or better yet want those ghastly demons to steal my joy?
Life lesson #46: Forgiveness heals, restores. Blame only keeps wounds open.
Many know my story, many don’t. The details don’t matter but the significance, the lessons learned do. I have no shame in addressing the peanut gallery or in honoring the Lord for not only restoring but rebuilding my foundation. It’s no secret, it's not an open wound anymore either, my marriage and several friendships fell apart. The unimaginable suddenly was not only imaginable but my reality. Yes, I’ve been broken inside, brought to my knees, faced anger and grief, tears, fear and loathing pretty much all at the same time, everything merging together at one junction. I have been hurt deeply and yes I have thought I’d split wide open, not even sure I wanted to continue getting out of bed on some days. Life was not only difficult; it was exhausting, complicated and exasperating. I was wronged, violated, bruised and devastated. I felt defective, flawed, inapt and faulty in ways I can’t begin to explain. I felt hopeless, helpless during those times. I had no idea how I would ever climb out of the pit I hadn’t fallen into myself, but had been pushed in; head first completely against my own will.
This is the thing though when we've been wronged, we can’t see around the wrongdoing in front of us. Our perception is tilted, off kilter. All we can see is the pain, the betrayal and the grief, real or not. We want to be vindicated by any means. The problem is in those moments we fail to realize forgiveness offers freedom and mercy and not just for the accused but for ourselves. Instead we are so full of the whys and how of what’s taken place and by whom has inflicted us we disregard grace. We become consumed with what we feel is righteous justice, self-inflicted or not. But you see what we fail to understand is forgiveness does not excuse the wrong, the injustice; however forgiveness frees us from the destruction of bitterness, vengeance and resentment.
My scars, well they aren’t something I parade around on my sleeve but I am not ashamed of where I have been. These scars, well they are absolute proof God not only heals but He restores. Those who purposely try to re-open wounds again for self-benefit, rubbing salt, inflicting pain are just as guilty, indulging in the same sin, the same grievance they want exposed. When it comes to those who still seek a parole committee, looking for a reaction, trying to file more grievances, hoping for some kind of gratification and jaded closure, well they simply aren’t ready for forgiveness. Guess you could say they have to realize they’re lost souls, going about it trying to find peace in all the wrong places, in all the wrong ways.
My advice, cross the bridge and let the waters of forgiveness sweep the rest away. Don’t let un-forgiveness get the best of you. I am a woman of faith, I believe in second chances. Scriptures reminds me of this. “Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sins are put out of sight. Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of sin.”(Romans 4:7-8) I rejoice in knowing not only have my sins been let go of, wiped clean with a new slate but so have those who have caused me pain. As for me, I choose love; I choose peace, restoration and healing. What has occurred cannot be undone, but it can be forgiven, pardoned and absolved. I’ve been changed, and not only have I been forgiven in my life, I have forgiven.